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INTERVIEWS OF MODERN HEROES

Every day we see the devastating impact homelessness has on people’s lives.

Crisis mobilise a huge volunteer effort each Christmas to bring warmth, companionship and vital services to people at one of the hardest times of the year.

Meet 2 of those Modern Heroes:

 

First Name: Emma

Age: 43

Location: Cardiff

 

Why did you choose CRISIS and how was your experience?

This will be my 10th year volunteering with Crisis. My experience really talks through the length of time that I have volunteered. It’s the best thing that I do all year.

Do you have a connection with this cause in your life?

No, I have not been homeless but I don’t see myself as any different to anyone that uses our services. I have a connection with the cause because I have a connection with every person that I walk by on the streets and I feel driven to do something. The greatest (and saddest) thing that I’ve learned from my experience is that it can be incredibly bewildering for guests that people care in such large numbers to make the project possible.  Something as simple as opening a door for guests to enter the dining hall says something. It tells them that they matter.

What do you do for a living when not volunteering and how would you describe yourself ?

I returned to University to study to be a physiotherapist last year. I was a civil servant for 14 years before I left to study. The experience of volunteering and the amazing services volunteers helped me to find a new career.

What is it like to work alongside such a good cause and what kind of satisfaction do you get from it?

The shift team are my Crisis Family. As others sit down to their turkey dinners, I can’t imagine being anywhere else than with my family at Crisis. It’s given me confidence, helped me find a new career and I’ve made some great friends whilst contributing to a project that has potential to change lives.

What is the most difficult in volunteering?

The last day. The realisation that we couldn’t help everyone, that we are sending our guests back on to the streets in many cases is heart breaking.

Name a public figure you think is a role model?

Jo Cox.

If you could describe CRISIS in one word?

Family

What would you say to people to incite them to give their time or money to Crisis?

The Christmas project cannot single handed solve the problem of homelessness, but we can make guests feel like they matter by some very simple acts – providing a meal, a safe place to sleep, a smile, someone to listen, a haircut, a new pair of glasses, medical care.  This can be important in giving our guests the hope to face the New Year. Crisis provides services and support throughout the year and we signpost our guests to these and other services whilst giving them a sense of belonging and safety. You don’t need specialist skills to join us, just enthusiasm to work as a team for our guests and each other – you can make a difference.

 

 

First Name: Peter

Age: 43

Location: London

 

Why did you choose CRISIS and how was your experience?

In 2002 I was new to London and wanted something unusual to occupy my time during Christmas. I began researching where to volunteer with homeless causes and found Crisis.

Do you have a connection with this cause in your life?

My day job is working in housing, so there’s a connection. It’s alarming to me how much of the housing that is available in London and the South East is out of reach to all kinds of people on all kinds of salaries.

What do you do for a living when not volunteering and how would you describe yourself?

I run a social enterprise that houses people who do brilliant volunteering in buildings that would otherwise be empty. We’ve just celebrated supporting the equivalent of 140 years of full time volunteering and we have people volunteering for everything from large charities to small one, and of course Crisis! I’d describe myself as generally curious and wanting to change things for the better.

What is it like to work alongside such a good cause and what kind of satisfaction do you get from it?

The best thing for me about such a large project is the variety of people I meet: both guests and volunteers. When you get to hear the different stories behind someone’s homelessness that’s interesting and it’s also taught me that there is no stereotype of homelessness: it could affect anyone anytime. There’s an amazing energy that comes with a project that only lasts a week: we’re a bit like a pop-up. I’ve met a lot of amazing volunteers over the years too and it simply couldn’t happen without the thousands of volunteers who come to help Crisis over the week.

What is the most difficult in volunteering?

We’re a big project, so finding the right number of volunteers across the week and across all of our centres can sometimes be challenging. We particularly love anyone who can volunteer at nights, and towards the 28th, 29th, 30th December.

Name a public figure you think is a role model?

I always enjoy hearing Ruby Wax on mental health.

If you could describe CRISIS in one word?

Hope

What would you say to people to incite them to give their time or money to Crisis?

Whatever you can give – time to volunteer or donations to help – it will be put to great use.

 

 

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